The Nobel Prize winning physicist Niels Bohr observed that technology has advanced more in the last thirty years than in the previous two thousand. He also predicted that the exponential increase in advancement will only continue.

Microsoft Office is a testament to this staggering pace of technological innovation. It’s amazing to think how far Office has come since the first version was released in January 1985. Over the past 27 years, it has evolved from a rudimentary version of Word into a full productivity suite used by businesses of all sizes across the globe. And in no year did Office momentum evolve at lightning speed more than it did in 2012. 

As Marco Chiappetta of Network World put it: “Office 2013/365 could be Microsoft’s most pervasive software package yet.”

2012 Highlights
The year 2012 was a momentous one for Microsoft Office, both in terms of innovation and momentum. Some of the major highlights:

The New Office: Unveiled in July, the new Office is both touch- and keyboard-friendly, and features Windows 8-style apps, cloud support, and social capabilities. As subscribers to the cloud-based subscription service, users get 60 minutes of Skype for free every month. “We are taking bold steps at Microsoft,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said at a July press conference upon unveiling the new Office.  “The new, modern Office will deliver unparalleled productivity and flexibility for both consumers and business customers.”

Acquisitions: Microsoft completed two major acquisitions in 2012 that expand the possibilities for productivity and collaboration within Office products. The company acquired Perceptive Pixel large-scale, multi-touch hardware and software technology. And its acquisition of Yammer will bring enterprise social networking to the new Office portfolio.

 

 

 

Small business wins: More than 90 percent of Office 365 customers are small businesses, and in 2012, the list continued to grow. From recruiting firms such as Rookie Recruits to the events firm iLuka to nonprofits such as D & L Representative Payee Services, small businesses continue to move to Office 365 in droves.

Large business wins:  About 40 percent of the global Interbrand list of the 100 top brands use Office 365 or related cloud productivity services from Microsoft. And again, the list of 2012 corporate customers continued to grow.  Large business—in industries ranging from manufacturing to health to consumer goods to retail—again and again selected Office 365. Among our new corporate customers: Toyota, Barilla, Bang & Olufsen, Vinci, WellPoint, Hallmark Cards, Burger King, Japan Airlines, Lojas Renner, Origin Energy, the Hilti Group, Emperor Group, Underwriters Laboratories, JetBlue, Patagonia, and the American Heart Association.

Education wins: In June, Microsoft launched Office 365 for education, which delivers the power of cloud productivity to education institutions of all sizes. And throughout the year, a long list of education institutions signed up. Among our new customers: Duke University, Emory University, Thomas Jefferson University, University of Iowa, University of Washington, Dartmouth College, Cornell University, Gonzaga University, Catholic International Education Office, All India Council for Technical Education, Seton Hall University, and Georgia State University.

Government momentum: In May, Microsoft announced Office 365 for Government, a new multi-tenant service that stores U.S. government data in a segregated community cloud. And throughout 2012, we watched numerous government customers move to Office 365. Some of these governments include: the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the EPA, the Federal Aviation Administration, the State of Minnesota, and the County of Santa Clara.

Office 365 certifications: In May, Office 365 was granted the Authority to Operate (ATO) under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) by the Broadcasting Board of Governors. This important FISMA certification comes in addition to many other Office 365 certifications from previous years including the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the U.S. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and the Information Security Management Standard ISO 27001. Microsoft is also the first cloud vendor to sign European Union Model Clauses with its customers.

Increased language support:  In 2012, Microsoft introduced Office 365 into 46 new markets, and added support for 11 more languages. Altogether, Office 365 is now offered in 88 markets and 32 languages and reaches over 4 billion people around the globe.

Analyst recognition: 2012 was also the year in which Microsoft’s cloud services received important accolades from major analyst firms. In an August 2012 report, for example, the independent research firm Forrester cited Microsoft as a leader in cloud collaboration. In addition, Microsoft Lync was placed in the “leaders” quadrant for the 2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications and the “visionaries” quadrant for the 2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony. Microsoft SharePoint was recognized as a “leader” in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms. And Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE) was recognized as a “leader” in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Secure Email Gateways.

Looking Ahead to 2013
While we’ve come a long way this year, we’re also excited about the year ahead, especially the general availability of the new Office, which will take place during the first quarter of 2013.

Already, the new Office is winning great reviews. Says Jill Duffy of PC Magazine: "I like what I see in the new Office, and if we've learned anything about the consumerization of IT, it's actually really important for employees to like their software."

Emily Price of Mashable had this to say: “After a few days of working in the in the new environment, it started to feel like home—so much so that going back to the current version of Office felt like I had pulled out a PC from a decade ago."

And Sam Biddle of Gizmodo: “The new Office is the best Office. …Without warning, the company is making beautiful, modern software, radically different from anything it's done before.”

Perhaps Preston Gralla of PC World put it the most succinctly: “It's the best Office yet,” he says.

Steve Ballmer was right: Microsoft took many bold steps in 2012. It has been an incredible year for Office innovation and momentum. And 2013 promises to be even better.

If you haven’t already, please download a preview version of the new Office. We’d love to hear what you think.